The Colorado Avalanche are trying desperately to stay in the pack of teams vying for one of those precious last playoff spots. Though some areas have improved since the beginning of the year, there is still a lot left to be desired. It seems as if most everyone on the team is squeezing their sticks. A simple tape to tape pass has been going astray way too often. A simple breakout turns into a breakdown. The Colorado Avalanche must get back to basics.
Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy need to figure out how to best approach this situation, because it’s now or never for the Colorado Avalanche when it comes to the playoffs.
Not So Crisp Passing
You simply can’t expect to compete in the NHL playoffs if you can’t complete tape to tape passes 90% of the time. Countless times this team has coughed up the puck on a play in which a smarter decision or a better pass would have resulted in retained possession. Their passing is now hurting the power-play too. With the amount of talent on the Avalanche team, they should have a much better power-play than what is on show currently. In order to make your man advantage successful, you need your players making timely tape to tape passes. If not, like we have seen all too much of recently, the Avs miss on a pass and the puck is cleared easily or worse, turned over.
The Avalanche were one of the highest scoring teams last year. They have not come close to the consistency that was so crucial to their success. Making better passes results in longer possession with the puck, and if you can out-possess the other team, you usually give yourself a very good shot at winning the game. However the Avs puck possession game has been their undoing so far. Coach Patrick Roy needs to get his team back to basics, doing passing drills and breakout scenarios in order to control the puck and game more effectively.
Another very basic teaching point in hockey is the breakout. Colorado’s breakout of the zone is failing because of simple passing, resulting in way too many turnovers for the opposition. Which in turn allows for way too many scoring chances that otherwise would not exist. Bobbling the puck resulting in a turnover in their own zone has become all too prevalent this season.
Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson should not be the only defenders capable of making a first pass to get their team out of trouble. If the Avs can somehow clean up their breakouts, they instantly become a much better puck possession team. Though simple chips off the boards to get a line change or the team moving up ice have been a rare sight lately, and it’s causing the Colorado Avalanche big time points in the standings.
The Sooner The Better
Colorado is amongst the teams who have been through the most one-goal games this season. A little work on the basics such as crisp passing and breaking out of the zone clean can go a long way towards the Avs being on the other side of those one-goal games. No longer can the Avalanche let Semyon Varlamov bail them out time and again.
If they don’t fix some basic issues fast, then this season will be a failure. Starting tonight with a tired Boston Bruins team coming to Denver, the Colorado Avalanche need to kick it into gear.
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble